What is the best way to make my ears pop when landing on a plane? The hold-your-nose-and-pitch method is very painful; are there any other methods to pop ears?
While a full yawn is best, simulating the movement your jaw makes in a yawn is enough to pop your ears (and often simulating a yawn makes a real one happen anyway)
If you have a cold, or if you let the pressure build up a lot it can be difficult to get the eustachian tubes to open, so in those instances I hold my nose, close my mouth and gently try and blow.
This is one you want to try gently, as blowing too hard could actually damage your ear drums, so practice doing it with relaxed cheeks (almost as if you were playing a trumpet.) You can also just try one eardrum at a time, which can make this easier and safer.
For prevention, I suggest chewing imaginary gum. Just do exactly what you would do if you had remembered to put gum in your mouth as descent started.
Once I'm in pain (eg I wake up from it, which has happened), I do the Valsava - pinch your nose shut and do just what you'd do to blow your nose. It's up to you how hard you "blow" - start gentle and work up if it's not working. You can feel the pressure equalize and the pain stops.
If you'd rather yawn, it might help to know it's a very contagious word. Most people will scratch themselves if someone else does, or if someone says the word itchy, or just from reading the word itchy (my doctor told me they were actually trained how to ask someone "does it itch?" without scratching themselves.) Yawn is a little less contagious so just reading it might not do the trick, but saying it aloud should work. Failing that, fake a yawn to infect someone near you - their real yawn should trigger one for you.
Update: today I am flying with perhaps the worst cold I have ever had. It is certainly the worst I have flown with. I needed to break out the big guns when it came to clearing one if my ears. As a result I can add two more techniques to this answer. First, especially if you have a cold, full-on blow your nose. This helped a lot. Second, massage the area under your ear (the end of your jaw) with the opposite hand. Move your ear up and down on your head. Combine this with chewing that imaginary gum and swallowing (I had a bottle of water with me) and the ear will clear eventually. Don't give up, keep working at it.
Well personally, I find a yawn is by far the easiest and least painful way of inducing the so-called 'pop'.
I have had ear difficulties since I was a baby, and was inflicted with many earaches as a youngster.
My ears feel pressure very easily. If I do not aggressively pop my ears during a plane ride, I will have an earache by the second flight of the day.
Here my ear-popping mechanisms, with the easiest-to-do-without-practice listed first:
Earaches are awful. Some of the worst pain I've experienced in my life was caused by ear pressure.
Whatever you do, don't do nothing. Don't wait until the pain wakes you up to start relieving the pressure.
Start using any of these techniques (they all do work) as soon as you feel any pressure in your ears, at any time during the flight.
It's a lot easier to keep your head (ears?) above water if you can stop the pressure from escalating.
Earplugs. There are many brands, they're cheap and after you've put them in you don't need to worry about doing any facial contortions since they help to automatically relieve pressure. Also obviously cuts back on aircraft engine noise and the sound of yet another excitable/crying child.
protected by Mark Mayo Jan 29 '13 at 17:31
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